- Miriam Makeba is one of South Africa's most beloved musicians from the apartheid era
- This brave woman survived exile and rose to great heights in the process
- Mama Africa may have passed away ten years ago, but she lives on in the hearts of South Africans
South Africa's Mama Africa, or Zensi Miriam Makeba if you're feeling technical, remains a musical icon even a decade after passing away.
Mama Africa is famous singer and political activist who believed in a better South Africa even in its darkest days.
Makeba was a passionate musical artist with a deep desire to help fight apartheid. With her music she was able to expose the Western world to African music as well as what was happening in South Africa.
Her life is an inspiration to all who come after her, but how much do you know about this legend? Briefly.co.za takes a look at some of the many highlights of the musical wonder-woman of South Africa.
Makeba died on the 9th of November 2008 after a concert in Italy at which she was performing. The concert was a pretty heated event and was organised to help support a writer to stand up against a Mafia-ish organisation in Campania. The icon passed away from a heart attack not long after her performance.
Our beloved Mama Africa started her life as the daughter of a domestic worker in Jozi. She lived and with her mother until they were imprisoned together after her mother was caught brewing beer in the sly to earn more money.
Miriam became a domestic worker herself in 1950 so she can help her mother. She went to Sophiatown and when she arrived she got "music fever" as she was exposed to African jazz and Kwela music.
Makeba received many honorary doctorates in her life and the City of Berkeley honoured her by declaring the 16th of June Miriam Makeba Day.
Miriam was also the first black musical artist sent into exile. This happened when Miriam went to Venice to receive an award for her role in Come Back Africa. The South African government got negative attention and revoked Makeba's passport, a fact she only learned when she wanted to return for her mother's funeral.
During her exile Makeba lived in the United States and performed at the epic Madison Square Garden and for the American president J.F Kennedy.
Mama Africa was one of the first black women to talk to the UN in 1963. She told them about what was happening in South Africa and in return the South African government took her citizenship away.
Makeba then won a Grammy along with Harry Belafonte and her song Pata Pata made her a world famous musician. This could not have been fun to see for the country that exiled her.
Nelson Mandela started working on bringing her home as soon as he was freed from jail.
Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela had a passionate but short-lived love affair that led to a 2-year marriage. The two got married in 1964 but divorced in 1966. Masekela was full of praise for Makeba and called her the most beautiful, loving, talented and kind woman that he could think of.
Mama Africa was a wonderful inspiration that instils awe and respect even to this day.
Watch the African Proverbs and Their Meanings video and look at the other videos on Briefly South Africa's YouTube channel.
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